"If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear."
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as part of a fun game. Mary and her husband, Victor, lived next door to Lord Byron; with the rainy season keeping them all indoors for a long period, they each agreed to write a ghost story.
Mary couldn’t decide what to write hers on until she overheard her husband and Lord Byron talking about new science and the possibility of creating life. She had a nightmare about that very thing and knew she had found her ghost story.
Mary created something that the world hadn’t seen before. One of the first science-fiction books from a woman? Absurdity, the men all cried. That a woman could produce something so horrifying was a new concept in the early 1800s. The reception was far from well received, sadly.
Frankenstein takes the reader back to a time before steroid-induced science fiction—back to a time when genres were unexplored and the writer could create something wonderfully original. The novel mainly follows Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who, by the way, was not a mad scientist like movies portray him to be. He was actually a tragic, panic-stricken man. Frankenstein created life and ran in fear of his creation. He was so terrified by the monster he had created that he fell ill with a fever for months.
It was only by the loving care of his friend, Henry Clerval, that he recovered. It was then that Frankenstein learned of the dreadful news of his brother’s passing. William had been strangled.
Frankenstein goes to the crime scene, only to find his demon of a creation there too. The truth hits Frankenstein like lightning, and he realizes the true killer of his brother, although he knew no one would believe him.
I will skip over some spoilers to tell you about Frankenstein’s creation. We will call him Adam, which is what Mary Shelley referred to him as. Thanks to Hollywood’s desire to completely ruin every single book in the world, Adam has always been portrayed as a wild animal, as a groaning, violent monster. The truth? He was more eloquent than Frankenstein and desired nothing more than love and affection.
He became an articulate speaker after listening to his neighbors read aloud. He wanted friends so badly that he finally convinced himself to appear before them, despite his awful appearance. They did not receive him, but instead beat him and kicked him out of their cottage. Adam eventually even saves a little girl from drowning, only to be beaten once more by the villagers.
Adam is my favorite character, for his eloquence and initial love for mankind. As civilized as Adam was, the villagers still couldn’t look past his hideous appearance. That’s what turned Adam violent: rejection. He hated his creator and sought revenge. He demanded that Frankenstein create him a wife so that the two of them could live in a desolate region without living in fear. If Frankenstein refused, Adam would kill him.
Maybe I can get past Hollywood’s idea of Igor (who never existed in the book), or changing Frankenstein into a mad, eccentric scientist, but I cannot grasp the idea of an animal-like, brain-dead Adam. He was a wonderful creation that the villagers refused to welcome. Ironic, isn’t it? That Shelley’s novel was not well received, either.
Shelley’s novel reads as if it were written by an older, wiser gentleman—not a 19-year-old girl. Her artistry lives on, nearly two hundred years later.
I give this novel 5 stars.